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Beware of blaming either nature or nurture.

The age old debate continues about the influences of nature verse nurture and how this impacts on behaviour. It is easier to focus on one or the other but the reality is more complex. We can tend to blame one or the other just to suit the situation we face. Both play a part and we need to beware of putting too much blame on either of nature and nurture. The reasons for this is it can limit our view on the solutions.
If we blame the persons nature for the behaviour this can have two impacts. One is it can remove responsibility for behaviour away from the person performing it because they are considered not to have control, it is in their nature. I like to think of it as like a preference. They have a instinctive preferred way of acting but they can still have control of the behaviour and in the end they have a choice. Are they choosing to go with the preference rather than acting another way?

Secondly, it can make those around the person feel disempowered and helpless to do anything about inappropriate behaviour. It is in their nature so how can I encourage change? This feeds on the assumption that they cannot learn to do things another way. And possibly that medication has to be the only answer to counteract the overwhelming forces of nature.

Similar issues are also involved if we just blame nurture. First this places all the blame on the current situation, the parents or the persons upbringing. It again can remove all responsibility from the person for their behaviour. Sure, these factors need to be taken into account but we still need to ensure that the person takes responsibility for what ever they do.

The second problem is it can make you feel disempowered to be able to help the person make change. Why bother when they are in such a difficult situation that nurtures this bad behaviour. It is all a waste of time the reasoning goes. To expect the behaviour to change we need to show what is acceptable and how to go about it. Giving up on them means there is no counteracting influence on the persons behaviour. If they learnt this behaviour then they should be able to learn to do it differently.

It comes down to it being about the behaviour and the only person who can control the behaviour is themselves. While nature and nurture will have its influence, it should not be viewed as all or nothing. This can lead to bias and faulty thinking about what is possible and what is an acceptable solution.
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